Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Whitbread Mild Ale quality 1922

And now the end is near . . . .

We've almost made it through to the end of this series. Just one last post summing up the results to come. Fitting, in a way, that Whitbread themselves should be the last child through the gate, rushing to get in before the bell rings.

I don't think I need to tell you about Whitbread. Many of you must still remember them when they had breweries and pubs, rather than a low-budget hotel chain. Having looked through so many of their brewing records, I've come to have a certain affection for Whitbread, despite having spent my younger days mostly avoiding their pubs. Other than in the Thames Valley, where it was Wethered's.

Chiswell Street is one of the few big London breweries still mostly intact. Though if you compare the 1896 map with a satellite image, you'll see that a good bit of the part to the South of Chiswell Street has disappeared.

Whitbread's Chiswell Street Brewery in 1896
I can't believe that I visited the Artillery Ground a couple of years ago (judging a beer contest) and didn't realise Chiswell Street was just around the corner.

I do know what varieties of Mild Whitbread brewed, having spent so much time sucking up dust from their brewing records. LA and X Ale. LA is the one called MA in the table. LA stood, confusingly, for Light Ale. Especially as it was dark in colour.  Not sure that I remembered to mention that Milds of the weakest class were often the darkest. And, no, I don't know why.

There are only eight Whitbread samples, which is odd. You'd think that they would either not have bothered or have taken a full set.

Whitbread Mild Ale quality 1922
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour Score
1922 MA 1004 1030.7 3.47 86.97% cloudy v. fair 2
1922 MA 1006 1027.8 2.79 77.34% not quite bright fair 1
1922 MA 1005 1027.5 2.92 81.82% fairly bright rather thin, clean palate -1
1922 X 1006 1040.4 4.43 84.16% bright poor -1
1922 X 1007 1040.8 4.45 83.82% bright good 2
1922 X 1008 1041.1 4.29 80.29% hazy fair 1
1922 X 1009 1043.3 4.42 78.52% almost bright thin & bitter -2
1922 X 1008 1040.6 4.29 81.28% brilliant good but rather thin -1
Average MA 0.67
Average X -0.20
Average  0.13
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Whitbread's weaker Mild has an untypically high degree of attenuation for this type. Often they kept the FG quite high, presumably to leave the beer with some body. A couple of the examples are even strong enough to have been intoxicating. I should give them an extra mark for that.

None of them was completely clear, but two out of three got a positive flavour score. Overall one of the better cheapo Milds, averaging a 0.67 score. Though the sample size is very small.

Their X Ale has the gravity you must have come to expect from a 7d/6d Ale - something a little over 1040º. The attenuation is pretty high for this, too, giving an ABV of 4.25-4.5%. I really wish this type of Mild had been around when I lived in Britain.

Three out of five were bright. Could do better, I guess. But only two got a positive score for flavour. Nothing too horrible sounding, but still leaving an average score below zero, -0.20.

I'm a bit disappointed by Whitbread. Don't think it wasn't the fault of the brewers. But Sydney Nevil was dead keen on training licensees. Maybe he hadn't been there long enough to have had an impact.

No comments: