Thursday 31 January 2013

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1897 Eldridge Pope XXXX

The Let's brew posts are coming thick and fast. Or at least on a regular basis. Thank you Kristen.

This time we're looking at the strongest beer in Eldridge Pope's portfolio in the 1890's, XXXX Ale. It's a beer that had real legs, still being brewed in 1964. I've just realised something very unusual about Eldridge Pope. In 1967 they brewed two beers stronger than XXXX: Goldie Barley Wine and Hardy Ale. I can't imagine there was another brewery in Britain whose strongest beer in 1967 was stronger than their strongest in the 1890's.

(You'll have to excuse the crap prose today. I've a stinking cold and my brain isn't functioning at 100%. Not that it ever really functions at 100%. But today it's only around 10%. God, I love numbers.)

Back to the bullshit. Strength-wise, XXXX is about the same as a London KK. Though rather less heavily hopped. Whitbread KK and Barclay Perkins KK both had around 4.5 lbs of hops per barrel, XXXX 3.2 lbs. The grist of XXXX was simpler, too. Barclay Perkins KK contained crystal malt and Whitbread's brown malt. Whereas XXXX, as you can see in the recipe below, was pale malt, flaked maize and sugar.

Did beers of this type start getting darker in London first? Possibly. But I'd need a stack more evidence to really start claiming that. But it's a point I'll keep in mind during my excavations.

One small point. A third of the hops in the original brew were described as "Californian". I'd advise changing 50% of the first hop addition to Cluster.

Over to Kristen . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

Malt: Keeping with the theme of the ELP beers, very simple grain bill. This one is utterly pale and full of tasty ass English pale malt. Let’s do something fun this time shall we? Let’s use some Pearl. I haven’t used that stuff in ages. You want bready? This sucker is bready!

Hops:  I really like Goldings in this recipe. Some really fresh ones, or some First Gold. They are really signing this year so lets use those if you can. Goldings are just as good…just a bit different.

Yeast: Same for the other ELP beers. If you want to use the Eldridge Pope/Hardy’s yeast, use the WLP099 Super High Gravity. This yes is a pretty strong fermenter but you can limit it by reducing the amount you pitch and the oxygen you give by about 1/3rd. If you want another yeast, anything that gives a nice bright beer with a good note of lighter fruits. Nothing weird here. Try your favorite stout yeast. My guess is you are gonna have to crash cool your beer to get it anywhere near finishing towards 1.019!

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Why I don't read beer magazines

The latest issue of What's Brewing and Beer Magazine arrived today.  First article, third paragraph it says this:

"As porters turned to pale ale, hops had to get better in quality and more focus went on their flavour. As bitters lost favour to lagers, fewer hops were needed and brewers moved away from Brish varieties and towards high alpha foreign hops."

Once again, it's a miracle how the author, in this case Mark Dredge, can get the story so wrong. The poor understanding of the history of British beer styles doesn't bode well for the rest of the article.

Porter, as a Beer, was heavily hopped. London brewers used top-quality Kent hops in their Porters and Stouts. Pale Ale replaced Porter? No it fucking didn't. Mild Ale replaced Porter. Pale Ale was only very briefly the nation's favourite - approximately 1965 to 1985.

Now onto the hops stuff. I've found plenty of 19th century beers - for example Younger's beers, including their IPA - with no British hops in them at all. The simple trruth is that Britain couldn't grow enough hops for its own needs after about 1840 and imported hops from everywhere imaginable. Some years in the late 19th century Britain imported more than 50% of the hops used in brewing.

Brewers often preferred foreign hops for a simple reason: they were cheaper. British farmers were discouraged from growing hops by foreign hops driving down the price and the susceptibility of the crop to bad weather, pests and disease. That's just one epidose, and quite a simplification of it. WW I had a huge influencce on hop-growing, too. The whole industry would have gone bankrupt without government intervention.

The ups and downs of the British hop industry are a fascinating story, driven by a whole array forces that spanned the whole world. Reducing its decline to something as simple as a change in the public's preferred beer style is really irritating.

Beer writing still has a long way to go.

Eldridge Pope beers 1911 - 1912

Time to move on to the 20th century and take look at Eldridge Pope's beers on the eve of WW I.

First, a general impression: those gravities look awfully low. This is before WW I, remember. The gravities of all the beers have fallen since 1896. I know, let's compare the beers from 1896 and 1911:

Beer 1896-97 1911-12 % fall
AK 1048.5 1042.7 11.96%
BAK 1048.5 1044.3 8.66%
KK 1051.5
PA 1057.6 1051.2 11.11%
X 1036
XX 1049
XXX 1065.1 1058.1 10.75%
XXXX 1074.8 1076.2 -1.87%
LTS 1051.2 1047.4 7.42%
S 1061.5 1059.3 3.58%

Only the XXX Strong Ale didn't drop in gravity, perversely going up slightly. The biggest seller - AK - saw the greatest drop in gravity, almost 12%. Though the fall was almost as great for PA and XXX.

I assume that the reason KK no longer appears in 1911 is connected with the fall in gravity of PA. Essentially PA has taken over the gravity slot formerly filled by KK.

The X is the most shocking beer. Just 1036. That's like kiddie beer for the period. I've been telling you that there was already a trend towards lower-gravity beer before WW I. This is proof. At no time in the 19th century would it have been classed as anything more than Table Beer. In fact most Table Beers were stronger.

I'm really happy to be looking outside London. The beers of the capital aren't totally typical of brewing across the country as a whole. The trend of dropping gravities in the decade before WW I isn't really visible in London.

There a bit of a gap (until the 1960's) between these and the next Eldridge Pope records I've got. Luckily I've got Whitbread's Gravity Book to fall back on. That's got a few Eldridge Pope beers from the years 1934 to 1961. We'll be turning our attention to them next time.

Eldridge Pope beers 1911 - 1912
Date Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp max. fermen-tation temp length of fermen-tation (days)
10th Feb 1911 Sp AK Pale Ale 1040.2 1011.1 3.85 72.41% 8.09 1.41 2 2 2 2 60.25º 67.5º 4
10th Feb 1911 BAK Pale Ale 1044.3 1012.7 4.18 71.25% 8.09 1.56 2 2 2 2 60.25º 67.75º 4
10th Feb 1911 AK Pale Ale 1042.7 1011.1 4.18 74.03% 8.09 1.50 2 2 2 2 60º 67.5º 4
15th Feb 1911 XXXX Strong Ale 1076.2 1024.4 6.85 68.00% 9.77 3.18 4.17 60º 79.25º 3
16th Feb 1911 S Stout 1059.3 1018.0 5.46 69.63% 7.30 1.98 2 2 59.5º 70º 4
16th Feb 1911 LTS Stout 1047.4 1014.7 4.32 69.01% 7.30 1.58 2 2 60º 67.5º 4
21st Feb 1911 PA Pale Ale 1051.2 1015.5 4.73 69.73% 4.15 2.09 2 2 2 60º 67.5º 4
21st Feb 1911 XXX Mild 1058.2 1017.2 5.42 70.48% 4.29 1.85 2 2 2 60º 76º 4
21st Feb 1911 X Mild 1036.0 1009.1 3.55 74.62% 4.29 1.14 2 2 2 61º 68.5º 4
6th Jun 1912 S Stout 1059.3 1019.1 5.31 67.76% 7.38 2.00 2.08 3.25 60º 69.5º 4
6th Jun 1912 LTS Stout 1047.4 1014.7 4.32 69.01% 7.38 1.60 2.08 3.25 60º 67.5º 4
23rd Aug 1912 BAK Pale Ale 1044.3 1013.3 4.10 70.00% 7.75 1.49 2 2.42 60º 68.5º 4
23rd Aug 1912 AK Pale Ale 1042.7 1012.7 3.96 70.13% 8.22 1.48 2 2.42 60º 68.5º 4
27th Aug 1912 PA Pale Ale 1051.0 1015.2 4.73 70.11% 9.61 2.08 2 2 60º 68.5º 4
Eldridge Pope brewing records

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Tetley's Mild Ales in the 1850's

The great strychnine scare of the 1850's has popped up again. This time it isn't Bass or Allsopp proving their Pale Ales to be pure but Joshua Tetley.

They took out a long advertisement in  the Leeds Mercury entitled "Joshua Tetley's East India Pale Ales" detailing how wholesome and pure their Pale Ales were.

But I'm not going to reproduce the stuff about Pale Ale. Because I've already posted that. It's the second report from chemist Muspratt that interests me. A report about Tetley's other beers, their Mild Ales and Stout.

The advert is dated 1852. You may recall that I've snaps of some of Tetley's brewing records. Including some from 1858. That's close enough for me. Good enough to try matching the beers from the logs with those in the ad.

Let's begin with the advertisement:

"That the consumers of the mild ale, and porters of Messrs. Tetley and Son might be confirmed in the favourable opinion they have formed, these beers have also been submitted to analysis, and the following report has bean received:-

Liverpool, July 28, 1852.
Messrs. Joshua Tetley and Son.-Gentlemen.-I herewith send you the results after a thorough analysis of each of the seven samples of ale and porter, viz,.


No. 1. "No. 1 Mild" Genuine.
No. 2. "No. 2 Mild" Genuine.
No. 3. 119 XXX. 1193 cask, 14d. per gallon Genuine.
No. 4. 194 XX. 5912 cask, 1s. per gallon Genuine.
No. 5. 105 X. 1872 cask, 10d. per gallon Genuine.
No. 6. 192 X. 8107 cask, 8d. per gallon Genuine.
No. 7. Porter "Stout" Genuine. 

The mild ales No.1 and No. 2," are particularly fine as to flavour, and the amount of carbonic acid they contain, renders them extremely pleasant and grateful to the palate. Although this is a bad season of the year, on account of the excessive heat, to transmit the ales to any distance, still they do not appear to have suffered, as I find them to be in excellent condition. Some of them are of course not equal to your finer ales, but this is readily accounted for by the difference in price. The sample of Stout forwarded yields on analysis, yields only extracts of malt and hops, and its moderately bitter taste and purely aromatic flavour, collaterally with its tonic properties, will make it keenly relished by those accustomed to its use.

I opine that if all the porter sold is equal to your sample, it is, when drunk in moderation, a most wholesome beverage, as it, like beer, combines in some measure the virtues Of water, wine, and food, for it quenches thirst, stimulates, cheers, and invigorates.

It is very satisfactory to me, who have had so much cause to complain Of adulterated articles, to find that beverages of general consumption as your Beer and Stout, are entirely free from every kind of impurity ; and the quantity of aromatic anodyne bitter derived from hops contained in them, tends to save the tone and strength of the stomach, and contributes to the restoration of the health of that organ when in a prostrate state, either from weakness or debility.
SHERIDAN MUSPRATT, Professor Of Chemistry."
Leeds Mercury - Saturday 21 August 1852, page 6.
I wish that I had seen this before going to the archives in Leeds. Those numbers before X, XX and XXX are gyle numbers. I could have found the matching brewing logs. Bum. Then I would have known for certain which beers these related to. Because there is one slight problem working out which exact beers these are. It's all to do with Tetley's brewhouse names.

Do you remember what's odd about Tetley's designations for their Mild Ales? The way they use an X with a different number of lines through it. So there is no beer called XXX in the records. Don't worry, I think I've worked it out.

X X 8d
X1 X 10d
4 No. 2 Mild
XX No. 1 Mild

These are the details of the beers:

Tetley Mild Ales in 1858
Beer OG OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp max. fermentation temp length of fermentation (days)
X 19.1 1052.9 1019.4 4.43 63.35% 7.71 1.60 1.5 1.5 68º 68º 7
X1 22 1060.9 1026.0 4.62 57.27% 7.30 1.77 1.5 1.5 º 68º 7
X2 24 1066.5 1020.5 6.08 69.17% 10.23 2.70 1 1 65º 67º 8
X3 26 1072.0 1023.5 6.41 67.31% 10.23 2.93 1 1 65º 69º 8
4 28 1077.6 1022.2 7.33 71.43% 14.18 4.48 1.5 1.5 66º 69º 11
XX 30.6 1084.8 1021.6 8.36 74.51% 14.18 4.90 1.5 1.5 66º 71º 11
Tetley brewing record held at the West Yorkshire Archive Service Leeds, document number WYL756/11/ACC1903

You may be wondering why there are two columns for OG. In the 19th century most British brewers used the pounds per barrel scale for gravity measurements. That's why the spreadsheets in which I store details harvested from brewing logs have two columns for OG and FG, one in pounds per barrel and one in specific gravity. I usually strip out the pounds per barrel columns before posting. This time I've left it in, because you can see clearly how the steps in gravity as you go up the price scale are constant: 2 pounds per barrel each time.

X and X1 are pretty weak for Mild Ales of the 1850's. London X Ales started at around the gravity of X2, somewhere in the mid 1060's. The gaps between the beers are also smaller than in London. The strongest Tetley Mild, XX, is the same gravity as the second-up London Mild, also called XX.

Other distinguishing features of these beers are shortish boil and a very small rise in temperature during fermentation. The rise is 5º F at most. More typical is 10º F or more. The hopping rate is similar to in London, averaging around 10 lbs per quarter of malt.

Normally I'd have a second instalment with the grists. But they're so simple - 100% pale malt - that there isn't really anything to say.

Monday 28 January 2013

Bath Brewery Ltd.

I found this cautionary tale of overambition by accident. I was looking for stuff about Eldridge Pope and up popped this article about the Bath Brewery.

The company had been formed by the merger of five breweries, but the process of fusing them together hadn't gone smoothly. In particular, rationalising production in a single brewery hadn't been a great success. Sounds like they should have paid more attention to beer quality.

The annual meeting of the shareholders of this company was held on Tuesday at the Grand Pump Room Hotel. Mr. Walter Long, Chairman, presided, and there were also present Messrs. T. P. Ashley, Mark Baggs, H. F. Clotterbuck, J. M. Hibbard, and E. H. Morgan (directors), F. Cumberland (manager), Austin J. King (solicitor), Fox (Spain Bros, and Co.), L. C. Mundy (secretary), Colonel Fanshawe, Colonel Tabuteau, A. G. D. Moger, E. A. Green, J. G. Robertson, R. Baggs, W. H. 1 agart, H. Hibbard, W. Marsh, G. Strange, E. W. Wood, A. C. Mitchell, W. Home, R. H. Baggs, W. F. Milsom, T. Baggs, E. Baggs, J. Hibbard, and H. Riccard.

The report, which we have published before, was taken as read. It stated that the year's working left a balance available for dividend of £3,661 12s. 2d., and the directors recommended that a dividend of 6 per cent. on the Preference Shares be paid, and £361 12s. 2d. carried to reserve. Mr. R. B. Cater, it was stated, had resigned his seat on the Board.

The Chairman, in moving its adoption, said the working expenses had been reduced £1,808 compared with 1891, but pointed out that the gross profits were only £21,459 compared with £23,240, or a decrease of £1,781, which counterbalanced the results of their savings. This was due to a decrease in the trade of the Company, in 1890 they sold 19,257 barrels, in 1891 they sold 19,371, and in 1892 only 17,837. Dividing the trade under three heads :—The tied house trade, the free house trade and the private or family trade, the Chairman said as regarded the first they had a great many houses which he believed were well let and well managed, and earning a good income for the Company. Referring to the other class of trade Mr. Long reminded the meeting that five different breweries, all producing their own beers and doing an individual trade, were amalgamated, and that when the Company centred their operations at one brewery probably the tastes of the former customers were not suited. He would admit that at first some bad beer was sold, they had to use off old stocks, and other difficulties had to be contended with. That gave their beer a bad name and created a prejudice against it. It was the old story of "giving a dog a bad name and hanging him as soon as you like afterwards." He was sure now tbat their beer was as good as anybody could desire it to be. It was submitted with four other beers to a careful test by gentlemen believed to be competent judges, who knew the sort of beer likely to sell in the district. They had submitted to them Bass's ; Anglo-Bavarian ; Eldridge, Pope and Co. 's ; Messrs. Rogers's ; and Bath Brewery ; and two out of the three selected the last-named as being decidedly the best. They had fixed appliances to enable them to place on the market a bright pale ale, and he urged the shareholders to do their utmost to increase the trade of the Company so that a dividend might be paid on the Ordinary shares. He mentioned that the Company had purchased the Viaduct-hotel, and that they were endeavouring to do everything to extend their trade, while at the same time they kept down the expenses. The Chairman alluded with regret to the resignation of Mr. Cater, and said the Board had placed on record their appreciation of his services.

Mr. T. F. Ashley seconded the adoption of the report and accounts.

Mr. Tagart said they had heard various stories about the enormous sum that the promoter of the company was said to have extracted, he did not know whether the actual amount had been ascertained. He had beard £30,000 suggested. He absolved the Directors from any charge of having had anything to do with that plunder. But they could not absolve them entirely from the responsibility of having added that amount to the capital of the Company. Alluding to the retirement of Mr. Cater the speaker expressed the opinion that it could not bave been to the advantage of the Company to have as a member of the Board a gentleman who had been carrying on a very similar business. Mr. Tagart testified to the excellent quality of the beer sold by the Company saying he drank it regularly. He thought the shareholders could hardly be expected to sell beer which the Directors could not sell.

Mr. Ashley : We are not asking the shareholders to sell it.

Mr. Tagart : To induce their friends to buy it.

The Chairman said it would not help their business in any way whatever to go back into past history or to indulge in recriminations.

The report was then adopted. On the motion of Mr. Moger. seconded by Colonel Fanshawe, Messrs. Ashley and Clutterbuck were re-elected directors.

Referring to some anonymous letters which had been received by him, the Chairman said the Directors did not dream of taking any fees until a dividend on the Ordinary Shares was paid.

The auditors were re-elected and the meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the Chairman, proposed by Mr. Robertson and seconded by Mr. Tagart.

Col. Tabuteau said every shareholder had the utmost confidence in the Chairman."
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 10 November 1892, page 3.

Even the combined company wasn't huge. They were brewing less than 20,000 barrels a year. Bass brewed over a million barrels a year at this point. Eldridge Pope had a 70 quarter brewery, which at 4 barrels to the quarter, 300 brewing days a year, gives a capaity of around 85,000 barrels.

The inclusion of Eldridge Pope's beer in the tasting is a demonstration of the high regard their beer was held in. It's there alongside Bass and two other renowned breweries, Anglo-Bavarian of Shepton Mallet and Rogers of Bristol. The latter being another brewery whose beer I've drunk, from the days when it was known under the inspiring name of Courage (Bristol). It was Rogers who took over the Bath Brewery in the 1920's.

From the complaints of the amount of money the promoter - that is the person pulling together the limited company - it's clear this was another slightly dodgy flotation. There were a few highly successful brewery company launches in the the 1880's and 1890's which seem to have initiated a bit of a mania. As in the dotcom boom, most companies were rather less successful and some launches were unadulterated fraud. The Bath Brewery seems to fall somewhere between incompetent and fraudulent.

It's clear from the anonymous letters sent to the chairman that the shareholders weren't happy bunnies. I'll have to see what happened later. But if they weren't doing well in the early 1890's - one of the most profitable periods ever for the British brewing industry - they were likely to struggle badly in the harsher conditions of the early 20th century.

Sunday 27 January 2013

AK in WW I

A perfect chance to combine a couple of my favourite obsessions: AK and WW I. It's a happy day. I've been prompted by an advertisement for Rogers's Ales from 1916 - a very odd (and late) date for a price list of this type.

It was a while before I realised that these price lists, printed in newspapers, weren't trying to attract the attention of the trade but of private families. In the 19th century it was common for larger households to buy in beer casks for use at home. Cask beer was cheaper than bottled and safer than buying draught beer in jugs in a pub. You never knew what the landlord might have been doing to his beer.

Such adverts become rarer after 1900, implying that the practice of buying casks for the home was going out of fashion. Most likely as a result of improvements to bottled beer. The new "sparkling" bottled beers (chilled and carbonated rather than bottle conditioned) were an attractive alternative to draught beer that might well turn "hard" (sour) before the cask was emptied.

I'm racking my brains to see if I've any evidence of casks at home after WW I. Not that I can recall, except for special occasions like Christmas. It wouldn't surprise me if the war just about killed off the practice. Where did private customers come in the pecking order of deliveries? My guess is well below the brewery's own pubs. So when beer was in short supply, private customers would be likely to go thirsty.

One of the reasons I was so pleased to discover this advert is the way it places AK and AKK in the hierarchy of strengths. Rogers brewed four Pale Ales: LBA, AK, AKK and PA. In price (so presumably in strength, too) they match up with four Mild Ales: X, XX, XXX and HB. I'm a bit surprised that they offered a Pale Ale weaker than AK. Usually AK matches up with X Ale in price.

There's not the slightest doubt as to which style Rogers considered AK and AKK were. Both are clearly designated as Bitter. It's a bit inconsistent the way PA is called Pale Ale but, as I've pointed out before, Bitter and Pale Ale were used interchangeably in the past.

I must see if I can find a list of Rogers products from after the war ended. I doubt very much that they continued to brew all those Bitters and Milds. The war helped brewers tidy up their product range a treat.

Remember me saying of another Rogers's price list that it was surprising it didn't include a Porter? As this one does, I think it's safe to assume Rogers were brewing a Porter right through the 19th century. It just didn't show up in all their advertisements.

You can see the AK trademark of Rogers at the bottom of the advert. Does anyone have any idea of its origins?

Saturday 26 January 2013

Inside the Dorchester Brewery (part two)

This time we'll be looking at that most crucial brewing operation: mashing. And the bits of equipment needed to carry it out. It's going to be fun. If reading a long technical description is your idea of fun. It is mine, but I suspect I'm not 100% typical of the human race.

I'm very disappointed in Barnard. There are no illustrations of either the mash tuns or coppers at Eldridge Pope. You'll have to use your imaginations. I lost mine years ago. I now rely on occasionally borrowing my son Alexei's. He's more than enough for two.

Come to think of it, Barnard doesn't seem to have spent a great deal of his visit to Dorchester inside the brewery. His Eldridge Pope sandwich is sadly lacking in meat. The first chapter is mostly general bullshit about Dorchester, literary quotations and a visit to Mr. Pope's country house. Maybe by the third volume he was getting fed up of hanging around in brew houses.

"Leaving the mill room behind us, we came to the sub-floor of the mashing stage, where is fixed the shafting that drives the grains conveyor, and the safes for setting taps, through which the wort runs to underback.

After this we ascended half-a-dozen steps to the noble mashing stage, open to the roof, and lighted by a dozen windows. Six of them are very lofty ; the others are smaller. Along one side there is a handsome gallery, reached by two staircases, which gives access to the hop rooms, cooling chamber, and the liquor-backs. On this spacious floor stand two cast-iron mash tuns—splendid vessels, each lagged with felt, and encased in pine-wood staves. Both have covers, lifted up and down by compensating weights ; also perforated iron draining plates; and their mashing capacity is twenty-four and forty-five quarters respectively. Each tun is commanded by a Steel's mashing machine, fed from the grist-case above, and has a three-armed sparger for sprinkling the goods. The grains are discharged from the tuns by an endless chain-belt, fitted into a cylinder, which conveys them to an iron tank, erected on massive columns, in the east courtyard.  From thence, when required, they are passed through an automatic busheller, or measurer, into the railway trucks or farmers' carts. By the side of each tun there is a standard valve, to enable the brewer to work the underlets from this stage; and outside each vessel is a thermometer, to mark the temperature of its contents.
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol III", by Alfred Barnard, 1890, pages 132 - 133.
I can't fault his description of the mash tuns. Nicely insulated, cast-iron tuns with lids. I can picture them exactly. The Steel's masher must important innovations in brewing equipment of all time. It's still a standard piece of kit in British breweries.

As I've seen some of Eldridge Pope's brewing records from just a handful of years after Barnrds's visit, I've some idea of how they were used. Most of the beers seems to have been mashed in the large mash tun. With a charge of 30-odd 60 quarters of malt. Larger batches, of 47 to 60 quarters, used both mash tuns.

Only the Double Stout and LTS were mashed solely in the smaller tun. There the charge was only 11 quarters. Its indicative of a relatively small demand for these beers that they were brewed in batches of just 50 to 60 barrels. The brew lengths of Mild and Pale Ale were much greater, 200 to 250 barrels, though usually not of one single beer. Mostly two or three were parti-gyled together.

Barnard makes a big deal of having got up early for the first mash of the day. Perhpas that's why his illustrator didn't tag along.
"Yesterday we followed the malt to the hopper, or twin grist-case, where it rests until required for mashing ; to-day we pursued its course therefrom until it became the ale of commerce. Here, let us add, early as was the hour, some of the men, whose duty it is to heat the mashing liquor, had already been at work a long time before we put in our appearance.

The mashing operation commenced immediately we appeared on the scene, and was performed, in the first instance, by passing the ground malt and water through the Steel's masher, referred to in the previous chapter, whereby the malt is saturated at a mixing heat of 150º or thereabouts, according to the lightness or heaviness of the beer required to be brewed. The general proportions are about one-and-a-half to two barrels of water to a quarter of malt, finishing with a little more water of a higher temperature.

From the Steel's mashing machine the mixture, in its saturated condition, falls into the mash tun, when the revolving rakes are set going until the goods rise to the proper heats, the object of the operator being to prevent coagulation, or setting of the "goods;" hence the rakes are kept going until the goods are seen to touch the line of saccharification.

With good water, good malt, and proper mash heats, good beer should follow as a matter of course. We did not wait to see the conclusion of the operation, which lasts from five to six hours, but our guide informed us that the draining of the wort from the goods (or grain) takes place about two hours after the mashing operations are completed.

The draining is accomplished slowly at first, by several cocks, placed in the bottom of the mash tun, and the wort is carried to the coppers, through main pipes constructed of copper and lined with tin."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol III", by Alfred Barnard, 1890, Page 136.

Barnard is about right with the mashing temperature. The tap heats were between 150º F and 154º F. But he's wrong about the water to malt ratio. It was over two barrels to a quarter of malt. As this table shows:

quarters malt barrels water (initial) barrels water (second) barrels water to a quarter malt (just initial) barrels water to a quarter malt
AK 39 85 5 2.18 2.31
BAK and AK 34 74 5 2.18 2.32
PA and XX 32 72 5 2.25 2.41
S 11 23 3 2.09 2.36
LTS 11 20 4 1.82 2.18
XX and XXX 47 103 8 2.19 2.36
XXXX 60 129 9 2.15 2.30
KK and XX 30 66 5 2.20 2.37
Eldridge Pope brewing records

The second dose of a small quantity of hotter water reminds me of the underlet mashing method London brewers loved. That's where 20-30 minutes after the initial infusion a small amount of hotter water was added via the underlet. It's a very simple type of step mash. The second addition followed more quickly at Eldridge Pope after just 5 to 15 minutes.

It's interesting that they kept the internal rakes revolving until the mash hit saccharification temperature. When using a Steel's masher, you don't normally need to do that. The grain and hot water are already mixed as they enter the tun. Breweries did keep their internal rakes, but only used them in specific circumstances, such as after an underlet or when a mash threatened to get "stuck".

I hope this hasn't been too technical for you. There will be more of the same next time. That's a thromise.

Friday 25 January 2013

The end for Drybrough

Finding this article about the sale and closure of Drybrough was an unusual experience. I'm used to looking at much older newspapers. It also highlighted just how much the brewing industry in Britain has changed in the last 25 years.

It was the mentions of Allied-Lyons, Grand Metropolitan, Bass, Courage and S & N (only Whitbread was missing form the Big Six set) that stuck out. The companies that used to control most of the pubs and brew most of the beer sold in them. All gone, at least from the brewing industry.
"Allied-Lyons wins race to purchase Drybrough
By Andrew Wilson

Allied-Lyons has bought Edinburgh-based brewers Drybrough paying the Grand Metropolitan subsidiary Watney Mann & Truman Brewers subsidiary a total of £48.5 million. Included in the deal are 155 pubs in Scotland  and 32 in the North East of England.

Brewing will stop immediately at the Craigmillar site although keg filling and distribution will be maintained. There will be some 29 job losses initially although Allied-Lyons said yesterday that the Alloa Brewery head-office staff could well be transferred to Craigmillar.

Allied added that the deal is good for the brewery industry as it combines two relatively small operations in Scotland so that it can become an "adequate critical mass." Drybrough, with an annual capacity of 300,000 barrels has 7% of the Scottish market which is similar to that of Allied's Alloa Brewery.

Drybrough Heavy will be transferred to Alloa where there is an annual capacity of 500,000 barrels or 144 million pints. It is expected that once the operation is fully integrated, Alloa will produce in excess of 400,000 barrels annually.

Initial market reaction was that GrandMet had dealt well. Although Drybrough has a book net asset value of £25m, with the pubs worth another £5m, Allied does appear to be buying the company at almost 19 times rumoured 1986 pre-tax profits of £4m.

But it defended the price by pointing out that this figure included an undisclosed GrandMet head office charge while there would be substantial savings to Allied from the integration.

The deal will increase the number of Allied pubs in Scotland to 400, or 30% of the brewery-controlled pubs, and there will be no earnings dilution. The pubs are in good condition so that there will not be any significant refurbishment costs.

Somewhat surprisingly, the valuation of the properties has yet to be completed although an Allied spokesman said they had a good idea as to their worth.

But Allied will find it heavy going to expand the number of retail outlets quickly in the face of a Scottish & Newcastle and Bass market share of around 80% of the beer market.

Allied issued almost 14.3 million shares which were placed with some difficulty yesterday by Cazenove at 347p with the discount of only 4p on the overnight 351p considered somewhat tight. Allied shares eased 5p to close at 346p.

The agreement comes after discussions with various other parties. These are believed to include Belhaven, which is now headed by former Arthur Bell chairman Raymond Miquel. He is anxious to expand Belhaven into a national premium brand beer with the existing capacity at Dunbar believed to be well under 100,000 barrels.

The Drybrough brewery capacity would have given Belhaven a substantial increase in line with English regionals such as Greene King and Marston's.

The sale leaves GrandMet with its three English breweries. These are Websters in Halifax, Mortlake in West London and the 850,000 barrels a year brewery in Brick Lane in London's East End.

Discussions are now taking place with Elders on the contract whereby Grad Met brews the Australian Fosters lager under a licence until 1996.

GrandMet will have to be bought out although the talks are amicable and could well involve some property exchange between the Elders Courage subsidiary.

Budweiser is also brewed by GrandMet under contract with an annual production of around 100,000 barrels.

GrandMet shares firmed 2p to 457p."
The Glasgow Herald - Jan 10, 1987, page 15.

Typical that they sold the brewery to someone who didn't actually want it. Well not to brew in. Though the Alloa Brewery itself didn't last that much longer, closing in 1998.

300,000 barrels is a fairly decent amount. For a regional brewer. Clearly just chicken-feed for the big boys. With just three breweries left, I wonder what the total capacity of GrandMet was? The 850,000-barrel brewery in the East End was Truman, which itself wasn't around much longer, closing in 1988. It was the beginning of the Big Six eating themselves. It's weird. I didn't care for them much at the time, but now I feel all nostalgic about Bass and Courage.

Note how two breweries - S & N and Bass - controlled a disproportionate amount of the Scottish beer market. 80%  between them. Which was far more than their share in England. According to a 1986 Courage estimate, the national on-sales market share of Courage was 7%, of S & N 14.7% and of Bass 22.9%.

The bit about the number of brewery-controlled pubs in Scotland got me reaching for my spreadsheet of pub numbers. If 400 was 30% of them, that means the total number was 1,333. In 1988, there were 4,472 pubs in Scotland. Plus 2,959 hotels. I'm not sure if the figure mentioned in the article included both groups. If it didn't include hotels, that means 30% of Scottish pubs had a brewery tie. If it did, it drops to just 18% with the tie. Either figure is way below the percentage of pubs tied in England.

Thursday 24 January 2013

Just one week left

to purchase the extra super-special, onetime only hardback edition of "Scotland!".

Don't miss out! This seminal volume will become a treasured heirloom, passed down from generation to generation of your family. You owe it them to make sure you get hold of a copy.

Buy "Scotland!" now! It may be your last chance.

Inside the Dorchester Brewery (part one)

We're going to follow Barnards inside Eldridge Pope's Dorchester Brewery. And a fine. modern affair it sounds.

Starting with that the supplier of the most important ingredient of beer, the well.

"One of the first essentials of a brewery is a supply of the purest water, and this important element is copiously afforded by a wonderful well on the premises of Messrs. Eldridge, Pope & Co., sunk down into the water-bearing strata, from whence it is pumped to a covered reservoir in the roof of the brewhouse, capable of containing 500 barrels. The brewery also has the advantage of an unlimited supply direct from the town main. Accompanied by the head brewer, Mr. Wright, we made a circuit of the premises, following the brewery processes in every stage.

The plant is a seventy-quarter one, and, with the building, has been so arranged that ample room is left for future extension. Judging from the progress made, and the great increase in the trade during the last few years, it cannot be long before these contemplated additions will have to be carried out.

We were first taken to see the noted well, situated beneath the courtyard., which separates the makings from the brewery. It was sunk through the chalk to a depth of 600 feet, and is 8 feet in diameter to a depth of 120 feet; and was then bored some 500 feet. This well contains an inexhaustible supply of water, which is raised to a great tank or cistern over the mashing stage by a set of powerful three-throw pumps. This water, we were told, on account  of its great  purity and  freedom  from  organic matter, is most favourable for brewing those light, delicate, fine-flavoured ales, for which Dorchester is so justly famous. The hot-liquor room is over the mashing stage, and to reach it from the courtyard we passed through the copper-house at the back of the brewery. Here are to be seen two hot-liquor backs, both heated by steam coils; and there is a third, placed on a gangway, also over the mashing stage. They contain from eighty to a hundred and twenty barrels each, and all of them are lagged with a patent composition.
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol III", by Alfred Barnard, 1890, pages 131 - 132.

A 70-quarter brewery would have a maximum capacity of around 85,000 barrels a year. A pretty decent size for a brewery in a relatively small provincial town. And one in a rural county.

600 feet? That's a pretty impressive well.

A liquor back, in case you were wondering, is a water tank. For some reason tanks are called backs within breweries. As in hop back and underback. A wonderful thing, the English language.

"We next made our way to the mill room, over the engine-house, where we were first shown the Archimedean screw which conveys the malt hither from the stores, which has, at its extremity, a set of squirrel cleaning cages for finally screening the malt. This chamber contains two pairs of steel malt-rolls, each pair enclosed in a mahogany case, over which is the feeding hopper. The malt is crushed between these rollers at the rate of thirty quarters per hour, and is conveyed to the twin grist hopper in the brewhouse by a Jacob's ladder.
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol III", by Alfred Barnard, 1890, page 132.
"Squirrel cage". That's a new term to me. It conjures up an image, though I'm not sure it's the correct one. I'm not the only person to be confused by it. I found this article in an 1892 newspaper:

"Dorchester Ales.
The Railway Supplies Journal devotes over page of last week's to a description of the large establishment of Messrs Eldridge Pope and Co., the well-known firm of Dorchester brewers, and the method adopted to ensure the production an exceptionally article. 

. . . . . .

The water used for the purpose of brewing is obtained from a wonderful well nearly 600 feet deep, and is, account of its purity and freedom from organic matter, peculiarly adapted to the brewing of those light, delicate, fine-flavoured ales for which Dorchester is justly famous. The enormous capacity of some of the vessels used is a very striking feature of the business in the eyes of a stranger, There are two hot liquor backs over the mashing stage containing upwards of 120 barrels each, and a third is placed on a gangway also over the mashing stage. These are heated by steam coils, and lagged with a patent composition. The malt used is conveyed from the stores by an Archimedean screw which has at its extremity set of squirrel cleaning caps for finally screwing it to the mill room, where it crushed between two pair of steel rollers, each pair being enclosed in a mahogany case. Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 01 April 1891, page 2.
Railway Supplies Journal - it sounds like a guest publication on Have I Got News for You. I wonder if my newsagent could get it for me?

The aticle is clearly ripped off from Barnard, though some of the details seem to have been lost in translation, so "squirrel cages" have become "squirrel cleaning caps". I'm not so sure that last sentence makes sense at all.

I'm not really intrigued by the Railway Supplies Journal article. I wonder if it is credited to an author? Assuming that isn't Barnard, it seems a clear case of plagiarism.

More from inside the brewery in the instalment.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1896 Eldridge Pope LTS

Here we are again on a Wednesday. This is confusing. Two weeks in a row, we've got the recipe together in time. I hope you're suitably grateful.

We're staying with Eldridge Pope and why not? It's exciting to see how they brewed down in the Southwest in the late 19th century. At least it is for me. This time it's LTS, or Light Tonic Stout, to give it its full name. This beer is instructive when coupled with last week's AK. It tells us about the trends in late 19th-century British brewing.

While WW I is usually given the blame for low strength of British beer in the 20th century, the process had started much earlier. WW I just accelerated it. Just as the second half of the 19th century saw a move away from heavy stock Pale Ales to lighter running Bitters, there was a similar swing to lighter Stouts. The names ran in parallel, too, with descriptors like Luncheon, Dinner or Light being added as prefixes. Luncheon Stout sat alongside Light Dinner Ale in bottled section of brewery price lists.

Beers like this are also indicative of the growing split between Porter and Stout. A beer of this modest gravity would once have been called a Porter. But as Porter start began to fade outside London, the weakest Black Beer at many breweries acquired the name Stout. Especially in bottled form. By the 1890's bottled Porter was pretty rare and its place was taken by weak Stouts like this.

Was it just bottled Porter with a different name? Sort of. There is a London example. At Fullers. I was surprised to see that they were still brewing P - their Porter - in the mid 1950's. The latest London Porter that I've found. It was the direct successor to their Porter. But it wasn't sold as Porter. Nor was it a draught beer. It was sold as Nourishing Stout. With the enormous gravity of 1031.

Beers like LTS are the ancestors of the low-gravity, sweetish Stouts of the mid-20th century. Much more so that stronger Stouts like Guinness. And were the beers that mostly defined British-brewed Stout.

I almost forgot a really important point about the grist. And the fact that it includes brown malt. That's pretty traditional by the 1890's. Old-fashioned might be better than the T-word. London brewers always kept faith with brown malt - it was one of the defining features of London Porter and Stout, after all - but provincial brewers were more fickle. Many of them dropped brown malt in favour of a simpler pale malt and black malt grist.

Wow. That went quickly. Time to pass you on to my technical friend . . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

Malt: Such a simple little grist. Three malts and a sugar. I really like my stouts with Maris Otter so lets do that then, yes? Favorite black and brown malts? Your choice, I’m using Fawcett. Make your invert. The beer will be that much more complex if you do. If you have to, go ahead and use can sugar. The percent isn’t that high but you’ll definitely notice a difference for the better if you do the invert.

Hops: These are definitely Kentish. However, sometimes one needs to shake it up a bit. Any of the Goldings would do very nicely. I really wanted the spice and floral character from the Willamette this time round…if it comes out at all. These babies aren’t added very late in the boil so there isnt’ a lot of aroma character at all.

Yeast: Same for the other ELP beers. If you want to use the Eldridge Pope/Hardy’s yeast, use the WLP099 Super High Gravity. This yes is a pretty strong fermenter but you can limit it by reducing the amount you pitch and the oxygen you give by about 1/3rd. If you want another yeast, anything that gives a nice bright beer with a good note of lighter fruits. Nothing weird here. Try your favorite stout yeast. My guess is you are gonna have to crash cool your beer to get it anywhere near finishing towards 1.019!