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.


Martyn Cornell said...

Interesting that they also have numbered casks, suggesting that, like Guinness, they had an army of clerks recording which cask went to which customer and when it was returned. Guinness never scrapped that system until the 1950s, IIRC, when someone finally realised that the cost of tracking every cask was greater than the likely losses if they didn't bother.

Ron Pattinson said...

I'm sure casks were always numbered. I've read before about clerks tracking casks. I think it was in Barnard. Was it Bass he was talking about?